• Lawrence school Superintendent Rick Doll says he's not necessarily worried about the new School Efficiency Task Force appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback. Nor is he terribly concerned about the web portal set up recently to solicit anonymous tips from the public about how schools are currently wasting money.
In fact, Doll said, the Lawrence school district already has a similar task force of its own at the local level, a school finance advisory group that routinely gets feedback from community members about where money might be getting wasted, or how things might be done more efficiently.
The main difference, he said, is that the local group communicates directly with school administrators.
"So it's feedback from people in the community," Doll said. I'm good with the feedback. It's just that you need to have educators in the room so you can digest that and put it in context of what it really looks like in a school system. How can you have a conversation about efficiency if you don't have somebody from the organization in there?"
Officials in the Eudora district expressed similar sentiments. They welcome suggestions from the public on how they can be more efficient and effective.
As the Journal-World has been reporting, Brownback's task force was criticized from the start for the fact that it initially included no one with professional experience working in public schools.
But the thing that seemed to put people most on edge was the announcement of a new web portal seeking anonymous tips about wasteful school spending. it had all the flavor of a police department's Crime Stopper Hotline, like they were saying, "We already know a crime has been committed. We just need witnesses to come forward with the evidence."
In truth, there's nothing at all unusual about governors appointing efficiency task forces. Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius formed several of them. That was one of her campaign promises in 2002, to perform a "top-to-bottom review" of all state government operations to look for savings and efficiencies.
What seems to have caused Brownback the most grief over this is not the substance of his idea, but simply the way it was introduced. One has to wonder how much push-back there would have been if he had put a more positive spin on the new web portal "inviting public comments and suggestions," rather than openly seeking "anonymous reporting."
It reminds one of the old adage about attracting more flies with honey than with vinegar.
• There are two more opportunities this week for the public to give Lawrence school district officials their thoughts and feedback about a proposed bond issue to fund building improvements and technology upgrades.
The next input session will be 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at Hillcrest Elementary, 1045 Hilltop Drive.
Another will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at New York School, 936 New York.
• Have news about local schools you'd like to share with the community? Call me at 832-7259, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.